Panthers, Broncos sharing early lead in the district football race

By Pat Turner

After three weeks of league action, Brandeis and O’Connor are sitting at the top of District 28-6A football, but it’s way too early to for either team to celebrate.

While the Broncos (4-0, 3-0) and Panthers (4-0, 3-0) have gone through early play without a scratch, Warren (3-1, 2-1), Brennan (2-2, 2-1) are within striking distance. And Marshall (2-2, 1-2) Jay (2-2, 1-2), Clark (1-3, 1-2), Taft (2-2, 1-2) Stevens (2-2, 1-2) have high hopes of staying in the hunt.

That’s the way business goes in the wild world of 28-6A football and those involved know every win is valuable. That’s the way O’Connor felt after topping Jay, 31-21 this past Friday.

“Winning is always big in this district,” O’Connor coach David Malesky said. “In this district records are put aside. I coached at Jay (as an assistant) a long time. Those guys always play their guts out. They have some talented kids.”

O’Connor, coming off a 14-7 win over Warren, had their hands full once again.

Jay stunned the Panthers on the second play from scrimmage when Jaylin Hastings Jr. burst through the midsection for a 75-yard touchdown sprint.

The Panthers tied the score at 7-7 on David Dodd’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Chase Locke and took the lead on their next possession when Zion Taylor, who rushed for 261 yards and two touchdowns, outran the Mustangs during a 63-yard scoring sprint.

Defense came through for O’Connor as well. Gabe Diaz, Charles Trammell, Brandon Garza, Johnathon Renteria, Jack Jennings, Anthony Knight, Tom McRae and Grant Rustan came up with clutch stops.

Jay’s defense also created problems. James Vigil foiled a scoring opportunity with an interception in the end zone and Leon Gonzales had a fumble recovery while Pablo Flores created pressure up front.

O’Connor finished the half with a 34-yard field goal from Jefflin Leslie and added a 10-yard touchdown run from Taylor late in the third quarter for a 24-7 lead.

Jay struck with Hastings’ 5-yard run, but O’Connor countered with another TD when Jordan Maye bruised his way for a 6-yard run.

Jay closed out the scoring in the final seconds when Jacob Zeno hurled a 18-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Choate on fourth-and-15.

“Our team is really resilient,” Malesky said. “We don’t get too down. I would like to see us do some things a little smarter, but that’s kind of the mark of a young football team. Hopefully, we’ll continue to improve. We still have a lot of work to do.”

Brandeis 52, Clark 13

The Broncos’ offense turned in another explosive performance while racking up 578 yards offense.

Jordan Battles led the passing attack, totaling 216 yards, while tossing TD passes to Brandon Pake (5 yards), J. Nova Rangel (39 yards) and Brock Gallegos (36 yards).

Rangel also scored on runs of 10 and 26 yards. He and Battles teamed with Tyler Lopez, Brent Malone, who had a 7-yard touchdown scamper, and Brett Mathis to chalk up 327 rushing yards. Mathis wrapped up Brandeis’ scoring with a 9-yard run.

Clark got its scores on Benjamin Hooper’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Luke Gibson. The Cougars’ tight end also hauled in an 11-yard TD toss from Kevin Bivings Jr.

Warren 35, Holmes 7

Warren made a quick recovery from its loss to O’Connor, with a dominating performance against Holmes (0-4, 0-3).

The Warriors scored all their points in the first half and received another strong defensive showing.

Quarterback Anthony Cisneros, who passed for 234 yards, got Warren’s offense rocking with a 55-yard touchdown toss to Samuel Stanford and a 41-yarder to Eric Rascoe for a quick 14-0 lead.

Cisneros also threw a 30-yard TD strike to Ryan Anders.

The Warriors also added two touchdowns on the ground with Stanford’s 1-yard plunge and a 2-yard scamper by Te’lem Turner.

What made the Warriors’ night complete was the defensive heroics of Caleb Williams, Justin Gomez, Davare Harrison and Eli Huron, who helped limit Holmes to nine first downs and 126 yards offense.

Marshall 14, Stevens 9

Marshall struck for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and relied on a stout defense to carve out a victory over Stevens.

Until Marshall got something going in the final period, the Falcons had a 3-0 advantage on a 31-yard field goal from Michael Pena.

Both teams moved the ball throughout contest.

Stevens totaled 316 yards with Josh Ramirez passing for 117 yards and Clarence Lee rambling for 161 yards. But Marshall defenders Ray Rodriguez, Noah Muniz, Max Guerrero, Christian Rudder and Chris Tobias kept the Falcons out of the end zone for the first three quarters.

Marshall, which picked up 246 yards offense, didn’t have much luck getting into the end zone either as Eli Wilkinson-Alexander, Deyvaghn Martin, Chris Rodriguez, Clay Englehardt and Josh Gonzales halted the Rams’ drives.

Marshall cashed in when it counted as Marcellus Davis capped scoring drives on TD runs of 4 and 2 yards for a 14-3 lead.

The Falcons made a strong bid for a comeback in the final minute when Lee scored o a 31-yard run. However, the Rams foiled a two-point conversion attempt and Stevens’ attempt at an onside kick.

Brennan 49, Taft 12

Brennan’s Jordan Connection helped put the Bears over the top Thursday night.

Quarterback Jordan Flores and receiver Jordan Smith ignited the Bears’ passing attack in a 49-12 District 28-6A win over Taft.

Flores completed 13 of 26 passes for 324 and four TDs. Smith was on the receiving end of three of those while catching five passes for 175 yards.

Although the Bears broke the game open in the second half, Taft made them sweat through much of the first half.

Taft took an early 3-0 lead on Bryan Medina’s 31-yard field goal in the first two minutes.

The Bears responded quickly as Flores delivered a 68-yard touchdown pass to Darryon Tolefree for a 7-3 lead.

Brennan was on its way to another potential score, but a huge break fell into Taft’s hand, thanks to Anthony Guerrero being in the right place at the right time. The ball got loose during a Bears’ running play and bounced on the turf.

Guerrero was there to make the snag and sprinted 50 yards for a touchdown and a 10-7 lead.

Brennan responded with another productive scoring drive capped by Flores’ 4-yard run for a 14-10 lead.

The Raiders cut into the deficit when a wild Brennan snap in the end zone led to a safety. Brennan also had an interception in the first half, but the Bears escaped more trouble when the Bears lost the ball on the return.

Eventually, the Bears started pulling away.

Joshua Lopez scored on a 1-yard touchdown run and Flores hurled a 69-yard touchdown pass to Smith on the final play of the half.

Flores and Smith started Brennan’s scoring in the second half with a 40-yard strike. The Bears followed with a 42-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter. Javon Grimes closed out Brennan’s scoring with a 7-yard scamper.

Harlan 28, Del Rio 7

DEL RIO – Harlan enters District 14-5A Division I play next week loaded with momentum after Friday’s zapping of Del Rio.

The Hawks (3-1) had a positive beginning to their first varsity season with the only blemish coming in last week’s loss to Laredo United South.

Everything worked to the Hawks’ advantage this time.

Aden Aguinaga passed for 132 yards, three turning into touchdowns to Aubrey McDade, Jacory Logan and Shomari Anderson.

McDade also rushes for 113 yards and a touchdown.

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